Bacolod forms team to expedite water infra projects

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez during a press briefing at the Mayor’s Office in Bacolod City Monday. (Glazyl Y. Masculino)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD City – The city government here has created a coordinating action team to oversee and fast-track the implementation of infrastructure projects aimed at improving the supply of water here.

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez issued an executive order (EO) on March 8, for the creation of the said team amid the pressing water shortage in this city, which was further aggravated by the El Niño phenomenon.

The team will be headed by Benitez, and co-chaired by Dr. Anna Maria Laarni Pornan, head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO).

Benitez cited in the executive order that there have been reports that several barangays in the city have been experiencing water shortages and interruptions, adversely affecting the daily lives and livelihoods of its residents. This is also being aggravated by the current adverse effect of drought.

Benitez noted in the EO that one of the recognized causes of water shortage is the difficulty of acquiring ownership or road right of way in areas where the water pipes need to pass through in order to supply water to the city.

Acquiring road right of way for infrastructure projects is essential for the development and improvement of road networks in our city, the mayor said.

Benitez, in a press briefing yesterday, said that there would be a further drop in the water supply in the next couple of months because there is no relief in the weather disturbance caused by the dry spell.

“In reality, there’s no water. That’s why I’m pushing the city to take an active role in order to compensate for the loss of water supply. What we need is more on the solution – where can we get water?” he added.

Benitez said that residents mostly affected by the limited water supply are those situated in the northern part of the city.

Benitez said in the EO that there is a need to expedite the process of acquiring road right of way to facilitate the implementation of vital infrastructure projects which necessitates the intervention of the city in order to mitigate the immediate problem of water shortage here.

Benitez, earlier said that they have identified the Matab-ang river situated on the boundaries of Bacolod and Talisay cities, and the Bocal-Bocal spring in Barangay Alangilan as two new water sources to augment the existing water sources here.

Benitez said that 20 million liters per day (MLD) will be sourced out from Matab-ang river, while five MLD or possibly 10 MLD will be taken from Bocal-Bocal spring.

A budget of P50 million is being eyed for the construction of pipe-laying facilities as a prompt intervention to address the water shortage here amid the El Niño phenomenon.

It was stated in the EO that access to clean and reliable water is a fundamental necessity for the health and well-being of every resident of Bacolod City, and that Republic Act (RA) No. 9275 or the “Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004” provides that local government units (LGUs) share the responsibility in the management and improvement of water quality within their territorial jurisdictions.

The team is composed of Councilor Psyche Marie Sy, chairperson of Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) Committee on Fire, Natural Disaster and Calamities, Councilor Claudio Jesus Raymundo Puentevella, chairperson of SP Committees on Health and Sanitation/Environment and Ecologies, Bacolod City Water District (Baciwa), Mona Dia Jardin from Prime Water, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Bacolod, National Water Resources Board (NWRB), City Legal Officer Atty. Romeo Carlos Ting Jr., City Assessor Atty. Maphilindo Polvora, Engr. Loben Rafael Ceballos, officer-in-charge of City Engineers Office (CEO), City Administrator Lucille Gelvolea, Ma. Fe Trespuentes, officer-in-charge of Bacolod Environment and Natural Resources Office (Benro), Carmela Gamboa, public information officer, City Budget Officer Maria Imelda Williams, and – City Health Officer Dr. Ma. Carmela Gensoli.

According to the executive order, the task force is responsible for creating a unified action plan that will facilitate the rapid execution of crucial water supply infrastructure projects in the city.

This plan is to foster collaboration between various government and private sector entities to swiftly address and resolve any challenges arising during the project’s lifecycle, from its initiation to completion.

The team is also charged with formulating both immediate and long-term strategies to combat water shortages and to guarantee an adequate water supply for all city inhabitants.

Furthermore, the group is expected to provide recommendations and endorsements to relevant offices or agencies for any proposals or initiatives that are part of this concerted effort to enhance the city’s water supply infrastructure.